Highlands School celebrates graduating Class of 2021

Highlands School 2021 commencement exercises were held outside on the track again this year, but without masks or social distancing, on Saturday, May 22 at 10 a.m.

Highlands School graduating Class of 2021 throws their caps in the air after graduation.

Highlands Assistant Principal Sarah Holbrooks said it’s important to honor graduates for reaching this milestone in their lives.

“Students, parents, and teachers work hard in the years building up to this important milestone in a student’s life,” said Holbrooks. “Families invest and pour into their children for 13 years, and this is a special time that we can all celebrate the hard work and dedication that gets a child to this transitional time of high school to the next journey of life. Families and friends look forward to celebrating this grand milestone. Educators take pride in the role they played in getting that child to graduation day.”

Calab Bowers presented the Invocation and the Benediction.

Calab Bowers presented the Invocation and the Benediction. Salutatorian Maddie Drummonds welcomed graduates and their families and friends.

Salutorian Maddie Drummonds welcomes students, faculty and families to Highlands School Graduation.

Principal Brian Jetter remarked on the class and gave each student an “elbow bump” upon receiving their diplomas.

Highlands Prinicipal Brian Jetter gave each graduate an elbow bump after receiving their diplomas.

The Commencement Address was delivered by High School Math Teacher Brian Aulisio.

The Commencement Address was delivered by High School Math Teacher Brian Aulisio.

Holbrooks, Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin, Media Specialist Terry Stamey, and MC Board of Education Member Hilary Wilkes helped award the 29 graduates their diplomas.

From left are Highlands School Media Specialist Terry Stamey and Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin helping award graduates their diplomas.

The Farewell Address was delivered by Valedictorian Jordan Carrier. This year’s Junior Marshals, Jeffrey Olvera Lopez and Taylor Rickert assisted as needed.

Valedictorian Jordan Carrier delivers the Farewell Address.

“It was a beautiful ceremony and I thought it went wonderful,” she said. “Our speaker, Brian Aulisio, brought a powerful message to our graduates and their families. The weather was beautiful, and I felt that spirits were lifted.”

Holbrooks added that throughout all the uncertainty of the school year, it ended on a positive note.

“After a crazy year, it was nice to feel the warm sun on our faces on this important day,” said Holbrooks. “This group of students will do great things! We had no way of knowing if a graduation would even be possible a few months ago, so this was a pleasant way to end a ‘pandemic school year’.

This year’s mascots were 1st graders Valerie Olvera Lopez and Jase Raby.

The Friday prior to graduation, May 21, seniors drove through town for the annual car parade making their last stand as Highlands School students.

Seniors parade through downtown before graduation.


This year’s 29 graduates are: Isabella Blanco, Jordan Carrier, Garrison Chalker, William Chastain, William Creswell, Alyson Dayton, Ellen Diehl, Madelyn Drummonds, Elliott Gordon, Stevi Graham, Brooklynn Houston, Joana Jimenez Reyes, Elijah Kennedy, Jamie King, Olivia Lewis, Jonathan Montalvo Espinoza, Anne Marie Moore, Abigail Nichols, Logan Petrone, Kadence Ramey, Megan Rehmeier, Savannah Shaheen, Collin Stoltzfus, James Tate, Hadley Templeton, Lane Tingen. Marley Ubertino, Rebekah Wiggins, and Tessa Wisniewski. This year’s mascots are Jase Raby and Valerie Olvera Lopez.

Mascots were 1st graders Jase Raby and Valerie Olvera Lopez.

Highlands Class of 2021:

Abigail Nichols, UNC Charlotte

Alyson Dayton, Western Carolina University

Anne Marie Moore, UNC Chapel Hill

Isabella Blanco, Hillsborough CC

Brooklynn Houston, UNC Charlotte

Collin Stoltzfus, Full time employment

Elijah Kennedy, Southwestern CC

Ellen Diehl, Gap Year

Elliott Gordon, UNC Charlotte

James Tate, High Point University

Garrison Chalker, Western Carolina University

Hadley Templeton, UNC Charlotte

Jamie King, Western Carolina University

Joana Jimenez Reyes, UNC Charlotte

Jonathan Montalvo Espinoza, Military

Jordan Carrier, Valedictorian, UNC Chapel Hill

Kadence Ramey, Southwestern CC

Lane Tingen, Western Carolina University

Logan Petrone, Gap Year

Madelyn Drummonds, Salutatorian, UNC Chapel Hill

Marley Ubertino, Southwestern CC

Megan Rehmeier, UNC Charlotte

Olivia Lewis, UNC Charlotte

Rebekah Wiggins, Undecided

Savannah Shaheen, Southwestern CC

Stevi Graham, Southwestern CC

Tessa Wisniewski, Carolina Central CC

William Chastain, N. Georgia Technical College

William Creswell, Southwestern CC

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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